The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are off to a 3-0 start thanks to today’s 22-17 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. It was the second week in a row that the Irish had long periods of struggling to move the ball — and again the second half was the most noticeable problem period.
I think we have sort of come accustomed to the Irish coming out firing to start a football game, but then fading in somewhat dramatic fashion as the game continues.
While some may consider the following a defense of Brandon Wimbush, it is decidedly not. It’s an indictment of Chip Long and Brian Kelly (and Del Alexander for that matter).
There are some serious issues here that affect this offense and its efficiency.
RUNNING THE DAMN BALL
In the past, these type of frustrations would usually mean an inordinate amount of passes called as opposed to running plays. This year has been a different story as Notre Dame is still missing its best running back (Dexter Williams) and its offensive line play has regressed more than we thought it would.
Against Vanderbilt, Notre Dame rushed the ball 48 times as opposed to throwing the ball 26 times. Some of the rushing attempts were called pass plays, but the ratio is certainly more along the lines that most of us would like to see Notre Dame produce.
Tony Jones Jr. had a career day on the ground with 17 carries for 118 yards. Brandon Wimbush also had a decent day on the ground with 19 carries for 84 yards that included a 12 yard TD run.
You see... it just makes very little sense to get 245 yards on the ground, but still struggle so mightily inside the redzone and finishing with touchdowns.
REDZONE GRAB BAG
I still have not heard a good answer to why Ian Book continually is sent in for Wimbush down around the goaline. One of the bigger reasons for supporting Wimbush as the starting quarterback was his redzone production and his ability to run the ball in for a touchdown.
So what is he doing on the sideline?
The gimmick of Ian Book handing the ball off to a running back for a touchdown died today, and so too should the gimmick — but we know it’s here to stay. It also got a big boost in support (I’m assuming) because Book found Nic Weishar for a touchdown late in the game to help the team win.
And yet... that’s a play that Brandon Wimbush has done fairly good with so far this year, and if someone would have covered Weishar, it could have been a better run for Brandon to punch it in for the score.
Notre Dame was 4-5 scoring inside the redzone, but 3 of those attempts were field goals. One was a miss, while the other two should have resulted in touchdown instead of stalling out unspectacularly. That’s a lot of points left on the field, and a huge difference from last year.
IT FEELS LIKE STUBBORN NONSENSE
I tweeted out my frustrations with the offense during the game. Basically... I just don’t get it. I don’t care if it’s Ian Book or Brandon Wimbush that’s starting and playing the game, but whoever it is... the plays need to be catered to the quarterback, and there needs to be ONE quarterback.
Continuing with what isn’t working is just stubborn people trying to will their ideas into working. It doesn’t help when receivers are dropping passes that hit them in the hands, or when they run the incorrect routes (as admitted by Miles Boykin).
I’m a firm believer that the consistency we all want, and the consistency that Brian Kelly talks about all the time is almost impossible to achieve while they continue to run the offense in such a strange manner.
They are consistently inconsistent — especially as the game goes on throughout the day.